Compared to my Capella and Epic 16: The 15 ft. length and 43 lbs. makes it easier to to lift and carry, turn around and drop in the water off a dock. The larger cockpit allows me to easily enter it from a dock and exit standing up at a beach. No hatches to deal with, easy to slide a set of wheels in the back. I don't think it handles at all like a kayak. I miss edging and kayak like handling but it is much more useful for bird photography because it is very stable, has lots of room and is easy to get out of. Also, when not moving I can rotate it easily because of flat bottom. Wind pushes it around more when sitting still because no V-bottom. Tracks straight in wind with a needed correction stroke. Speed is just a hair slower than the Capella but not much. I call it my Canoe-ack.
This is a wonderful boat if you're into nature, camping, taking stuff with you, exploring, convenience, accessibility, you get the picture. You might compare it to the old Chevy El Camino a car like pick-up truck. They are just so darn handy that they are kept and cherished for years and years. Wood trim is a nice touch.A couple of years on and it's still a winner! I replaced the original seat pad/backband with the newer one-piece unit for a vast improvement in comfort.
The canoe is a bit small for tripping but Ostrum's 2-piece solo pack system will fit fine under the decks and a Duluth "Rambler" fits perfectly behind the seat. It can be done, and the low, decked profile lets you slip under the wind on big lakes and rivers. I sometimes miss using my single paddles but with a good double we really fly. A keeper!Don't worry. It's a great canoe. paddle it however you want - single, double, triple .... great design, great construction. I've put over 6K miles on mine, so far.
I installed a sliding Wenonah bucket seat and use a bent-shaft zav. done many big water miles in coastal everglades -- tripping with 100 pounds of gear and water with breaking waves, 25-knot winds and nasty tides, at least for this region. I've yet to upset it unintentionally - only happened during practice sessions, and when manatees get ticked and kick my Rob Roy. It's a bad ass boat; sleek, although a bit small, fast and classy.This is another superb Dave Yost design for folks looking for a relatively affordable decked canoe for day paddling and trips lasting up to several days. It handles wind and waves from all directions comfortably and has a nice blend of primary and secondary stability. Gear storage spaces won't work too well for those who want to bring everything but the kitchen sink, but if you stick to a reasonable amount of gear, will be adequate. The hull is pretty efficient and can keep up with the longer decked canoes when the group is paddling at a steady cruising pace.
There were a few things that I would change on my personal boat, but that is to be expected on a boat that costs a thousand dollars less than any other decked canoe. First to go would be the seat. It is uncomfortable and much too low for someone using a canoe paddle, and the boat's stability is good enough to accommodate the higher seat height. I padded it up to 4" high and felt that I could get a much stronger canoe paddle stroke there. The rear thwart was too far forward, which meant that the boat was always trimmed just a little bit nose heavy with this 220 lb. paddler. I didn't see the benefit of the wood trim on the cockpit, and it ended rather abruptly on the sides instead of going all the way around. I would think that it would be easier to use a composite coaming. A rudder would be a nice option or owner add-on. I would probably want a spray cover for peace of mind if I were going to be paddling the boat loaded in wind and waves.Mine is an older gel-coated Kevlar model that I bought used. It weighs an honest 37 lbs. The boat is extremely fast when paddled with a double bladed paddle and can keep up with most other boats out there. You can also paddle it with a single bladed paddle, but I'd recommend a shorther shaft due to the low seating position.
Initial stability is good, but beginners might find it 'tippy', a characteristic common in Bell boats. Secondary stability however is excellent. The guy I bought it from said I'd probably fall out before tipping it over and I think he's right. Leaning the boat helps in turning. The open cockpit allows you to move your legs around somewhat and reduces fatigue, at least for me.
For big river or Boundary Water type trips I think the Rob Roy is hard to beat. Carefully packed with lightweight gear you could do a week long trip in it. An ideal load would be 300 lbs, but Bell claims you can carry 550, although I don't know where you'd put everything. I wouldn't recommend it for twisty or rocky rivers or in whitewater as it doesn't turn quickly and punches through waves rather than riding over them. I'd also recommend a spray skirt in choppy water. All in all I love the boat. As Bell advertises it lends a kayak's speed to a canoe's ability to carry a load.